UC Riverside Athletics announced Friday that Mike Magpayo, the 2021 Joe B. Hall Award winner, has been tabbed to lead the UC Riverside Men’s Basketball program forward on a permanent basis as he has officially signed to a five-year contract.
Magpayo led the Highlanders to a 14-8 overall record during the global pandemic shortened 2020-21 season. The first year head coach guided the team to its best record story since 2008-09, its highest regular season finish in the Big West Conference (third), and secured UCR’s highest-ever seed in the Big West Conference Tournament (third).
“We are incredibly pleased with what Coach Magpayo has accomplished this year,” said Interim Director of Athletics, Wesley Mallette. “Our team’s performance on the court was outstanding this season, but even more impressive was Mike’s leadership. He and his staff guided this group of young men through the greatest time of uncertainty in our Athletics program’s history, and he did it in an unparalleled manner.”
“Mike has been part of the transformation of our team that began three years ago and led the way as we turned the corner this year and elevated into one of the top teams in the Big West Conference. He has become a true leader in our Athletics program. His selfless and collaborative approach is admired by all and much needed as we continue to build UCR Athletics,’ Mallette continued.
Not only did Magpayo help the program make history last season, but Magpayo himself broke barriers. With a 57-42 neutral-court win over Washington in Las Vegas, Magpayo became the first person of Asian American descent to win a game as a head coach at the NCAA Division I level.
Magpayo helped UCR garner a program-record four All-Big West honors at the end of the season, and the Highlanders went on to defeat Hawaii for their first Big West Tournament win in 10 years.
Magpayo arrived to the Inland Empire in April of 2018 from San Francisco, serving as an assistant under head coach David Patrick. The UC Santa Barbara alum was elevated to associate head coach in 2019-20, and soon after was named interim head coach after Patrick departed UCR to take the associate head coach position at Arkansas.
“Without question, this is one of the most transformative days in UCR Basketball history,” Magpayo said. “The work of our elite student-athletes has led to this tremendous opportunity for me to lead us forward. We have constructed a group of young men that have proven to be winners over the last few years. My staff is special and I’m thankful to them as well. We are committed to building this winning culture and to always operate with a championship standard. This great young and empowered University deserves a winner and I intend to give it to them.”
“Thank you to our Interim Athletics Director, Wes Mallette, for his incredible work thus far and for offering me the chance to coach the UCR Highlanders Men’s Basketball team. I would also like to thank you Chancellor Wilcox and the University for believing in me and my family. My wife, Caroline, and my son, Luka, are fired up and we are ready to keep going!” Magpayo concluded.